The need for long overdue constitutional reform in Trinidad & Tobago
a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed
All the laws in our constitution govern not just what our rights are, but the rights which we and our fellow human beings are denied. They are supposed to be a living representation of what we as a people believe, and how we want to live. There are a couple of things which came to my attention in the last few months. Perhaps they shouldn’t have surprised me, but they did.
This is what our constitution says (and all T&T’s current laws are online) regarding out sexual freedoms (or lack thereof):
CRIMINAL LAW & PROCEDURE
Chapter 11:28: SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT
(11th November, 1986)
13. (1) A person who commits buggery is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment—
(a) if committed by an adult on a minor, for life;
(b) if committed by an adult on another adult, for twenty-five years;
(c) if committed by a minor, for five years.
(2) In this section “buggery” means sexual inter course per anum by a male person with a male person or by a male person with a female person.
IMMIGRATION & EMIGRATION
Chapter 18:01: IMMIGRATION ACT
Act no. 41 of 1969. Last Amended 1995
8. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2), entry into Trinidad and Tobago of the persons described in this subsection, other than citizens and, subject to section 7(2), residents, is prohibited, namely —
(e) prostitutes, homosexuals or persons living on the earnings of prostitutes or homosexuals, or persons reasonably suspected as coming to Trinidad and Tobago for these or any other immoral purposes;
(f) persons who are reasonably suspected of attempting to bring into Trinidad and Tobago or of procuring prostitutes or other persons for the purpose of prostitution or homosexual or other immoral purposes;
9. (4) Where a permitted entrant is in the opinion of the Minister a person described in section 8(1)(k), (l), (m) or (n), or a person who —
(a) practises, assists in the practice of or shares in the avails of prostitution or homosexualism; the Minister may at any time declare that such person has ceased to be a permitted entrant and such person shall thereupon cease to be a permitted entrant.
(5) The Minister may make a deportation order against any person referred to in subsection (4) or section 50(5), subject [as regards a person referred to in section 50(5)] to the provisions of section 31(3), and such person shall have no right of appeal and shall be deported as soon as possible.
Are these laws – and many other archaic ones among them regarding the rights of women and children – how we want to live? Do they represent who we are, and the rights to which we are entitled? Constitutional reform is (theoretically) in the air, as are elections so the time to act is now. Are these the laws we want for our land?
It is time to decolonise our minds, our bodies, and our constitution.